New collaboration enables SCET to bring African student innovators to Berkeley

SCET, the Center for African Studies, and the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program are partnering to provide valuable training for Africa’s youth.


March 7, 2023


From left to right: Mcebo Vincent Hlanze, Judercio Nhauche, Abigail Efua Tetteh, Sandra Nettey, and Styve Zeumo Lekane
From left to right: Mcebo Vincent Hlanze, Judercio Nhauche, Abigail Efua Tetteh, Sandra Nettey, and Styve Zeumo Lekane

The Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology (SCET), Center for African Studies, and the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program are playing a vital role in helping Africa grow by providing valuable training for Africa’s youth.

Five students from Ashesi University in Ghana ventured to Berkeley for the Spring 2023 semester to take classes and gain entrepreneurship and innovation skills at SCET. The students include Abigail Efua Tetteh (Ghana), Judercio Nhauche (Mozambique), Mcebo Vincent Hlanze (Eswatini), Sandra Nettey (Ghana), and Styve Zeumo Lekane (Cameroon).

“SCET is excited to collaborate with the Center for African Studies to bring young African innovators to Berkeley,” says Susan Giesecke, SCET Director of Global Engagement. “African economies are expected to grow rapidly in the coming years, and we are excited to help support this with skills and training for entrepreneurs.”

Like the rest of the world, African nations were faced with economic challenges during the pandemic, but a recent report from the African Development Bank Group on Africa’s Macroeconomic Performance and Outlook shows that Africa is set to outperform the rest of the world in economic growth over the next two years, with real GDP averaging around 4% in 2023 and 2024. This is higher than the projected global averages of 2.7% and 3.2%. The report highlights that Africa has a young population and vast natural resources, which give it the potential for enormous growth and innovation. However, in order to realize this potential, significant investment in education and skills development is required, which this new collaboration will support, as well as rapid economic reform, good governance, and a stable political landscape.

“Through the Scholars Program, the Center for African Studies and the larger UC Berkeley community has been a partner with the Mastercard Foundation in their goal to enable young Africans to attain inclusive and relevant education, transition smoothly into dignified and fulfilling work, and lead transformative lives. Since 2012, we have graduated 134 bachelor’s and master’s degree Scholars,” says Martha Saavedra, Associate Director, Berkeley Center for African Studies. “This new partnership with Ashesi University – an institution founded by Haas alum, Patrick Awuah – allows us to have even a wider impact as we will welcome five visiting students every semester for the next few years.”

What the students are saying

SCET asked the five students what their goals are for their exchange program at UC Berkeley:

“At UC Berkeley, my objective is to acquire knowledge from highly experienced and successful entrepreneurs on the intricacies of company building while creating a durable and robust network that I can utilize to expand my startup.” – Styve Orel Zeumo Lekane

“I am passionate about transforming Africa through entrepreneurship, and my time at UC Berkeley presents a unique opportunity to acquire the skills and knowledge to achieve this goal. By honing my leadership, creativity, and execution skills, I aim to build a startup that addresses a pressing social or environmental challenge on the continent. I am excited to collaborate with like-minded innovators to create scalable solutions that improve the livelihoods of Africans and contribute to sustainable development.” – Mcebo Vincent

“My goals at UC Berkeley are to develop entrepreneurial skills and gain knowledge of technology innovation in a diverse and collaborative learning environment. I also aim to develop skills in critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration through team projects. Most importantly, I aim to expand my professional network and gain exposure to the startup culture in the Silicon Valley area.” – Judercio Jose Nhauche

“My goal for my time at UC Berkeley is to immerse myself in a diverse community of scholars and thinkers, to broaden my intellectual horizons, and to develop the critical thinking skills and knowledge necessary to become a lifelong learner and an engaged citizen of the world.” – Abigail Tetteh

“My goals for for my time here is to connect with people in the technology ecosystem and build my social capital.” – Sandra Nettey

About the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology

The Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology (SCET) is a global innovation hub headquartered at UC Berkeley’s College of Engineering, where aspiring entrepreneurs take deep dives into the world of technology entrepreneurship and embark on the path to developing exciting new ventures. The Center offers a suite of courses and programs for students, executives, and global innovators.

About the Center for African Studies

The Center for African Studies at the University of California, Berkeley promotes teaching, research and public awareness about Africa and African issues. This work is accomplished through support for the following activities: Undergraduate instruction and graduate student training, including language instruction; Research and collaborative efforts; Community outreach and public programs; and Service to the national and international community of Africanist scholars and students.

As an Organized Research Unit of the University of California, the Center’s charge is to facilitate interdisciplinary research and research collaborations; disseminate research results; strengthen graduate and undergraduate education through training opportunities; seek extramural research funds; and carry out university and public service programs related to African Studies.

About Ashesi University

Ashesi University’s mission is to propel an African renaissance by educating ethical, entrepreneurial leaders. Located in Ghana, this private, non-profit university combines a rigorous multidisciplinary core with degree programs in Computer Science, Business Administration, Management Information Systems, and Engineering. A student-led honour code, integrated community service, diverse internships, and real-world projects prepare students to develop innovative solutions for the challenges facing their individual communities, countries and the continent at large.